Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has appointed Virgin Media Business to deliver approximately 2700 km of new fibreoptic broadband infrastructure across the city-region to deliver next-generation connectivity.
The £23.8 million Local Full Fibre Networks Programme will connect over 1700 public sites across all 10 of Greater Manchester’s boroughs. This investment, alongside action taken by individual boroughs, will be the largest full-fibre programme in the UK, and aims to enhance the city-region’s reputation as a hub for digital enterprises, and encourage and facilitate investment by telecoms companies in the future.
The new infrastructure will be the basis of future digital transformation and smart city projects and has been designed with the partnership of public services such as the fire service and Transport for Greater Manchester.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said:
This is a huge achievement for Greater Manchester’s public sector and really demonstrates the value of collaboration. Full Fibre will supercharge our digital capacity and help our public sector sites to continue delivering the best possible services to residents across our city-region.
“We are also minimising the costs for all providers to invest in Greater Manchester through our Full Fibre Prospectus. We are committed to making it as easy as possible for all to providers to invest in digital connections that benefit our businesses and communities.
“As well as revolutionising our public services, it will give a huge boost to Greater Manchester’s towns and cities, cementing our position as one of the leading digital city-regions in Europe.”
Virgin Media Business has committed to employing 20 apprentices as part of the project, which is underpinned by the Digital Blueprint for Greater Manchester, the document setting out the GMCA’s ambitions for digitising public services, upskilling residents and developing the digital economy.
Peter Kelly, Managing Director of Virgin Media Business, said:
Manchester is an enormously important centre for Virgin Media, a gigabit city and the place our Project Lightning network expansion programme first started.
“Today’s investment will build on our proud connection to the city and bring next-generation connectivity to Greater Manchester, giving the city region the best digital infrastructure in the UK.”
Councillor Elise Wilson, Digital Lead for Greater Manchester and Leader of Stockport Council said:
This is immense news for Greater Manchester and a refreshingly new approach to investing in infrastructure with a huge emphasis on collaboration and services that are designed to serve the majority as well as our future generations. With businesses and services going digital at an unprecedented rate, having the right infrastructure that not only considers where we are now, but where we will be in 30 years’ time is vital. This future-proofed connectivity supports the work we are doing in Greater Manchester to make public sector services more efficient and sets a standard to better ways of doing”.